Unwaveringly dedicated to a cinema of provocation, even if it may appear excessive to more sensitive viewers, auds at the Venice (and Toronto) Film Festivals had the opportunity to glimpse a gentler side of auteur Michel Franco‘s work. That’s not to imply that Memory is a easier lifting, but it does appear to deviate slightly from Franco’s earlier deeply personal psychological character studies, smothering itself with the same degree of empathy evident in Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of Sylvia—a compassionate social worker who undergoes a distinctive transformation in her caregiving role. Winner of the Best Actor prize in Venice for Peter Sarsgaard’s exceptional performance as someone in the trenches of early dementia, Memory encapsulates past experiences that are inescapably real or distorted, concealed or irrevocably vanished. Doors with multiple padlocks don’t stand a chance against the warmth trying to settle in.
Arriving directly from the Venice Film Festival where Memory was the second to last film presented in the Golden Lion competition, I got to speak to Michel his direction of the physical choreography between actors, what Sarsgaard brings to the role of Saul, the shorthand he has developed with his cinematographer Yves Cape and the use of Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale.